TRAGIC ELEMENT IN MODERN CONFLICT affected by the alliances and affiliations of the various governments concerned, and might even be decided Jby sympathies in ideology. Let us suppose it to have become clear that if a conference were assembled the result was a foregone conclusion and Germany was so to speak outvoted in advance. I began to wonder whether in such a case she was necessarily more selfish than anybody else when she refused to put her head in the noose — I began to wonder also whether the virtues of Britain were quite so much to boast about when they coincided so nicely with her interests. This argument might be projected on to a wider canvas altogether ; for without doubting the good intentions of the men who have ruled England in the last few decades, one must note that if a Machiavellian imperialist statesman had happened to be governing us with purely egotistical purposes in view, he would have found the conference method the best way of promoting our national interests, indeed the only way in view of the decline of actual British power and in view of the general distribution of forces in the world. In other words Great Britain in our time has been in a position which we must regard as fortunate in a certain respect, in that the policy which altruism would have dictated to her happened to be the same as the one which self-interest would demand — so that, though the conference method has been promoted so often by Englishmen who were only conscious of it as a noble aspiration, it has also been described as the only method of realpolitik left to us. The conference method is more advantageous to us than any decision to measure forces with a rival, even if the voting should H.H.R.